Cambridge study on English subject in Malaysia 'positive'

LONDON - The preliminary findings of the Cambridge English Language Assessment on the teaching and learning of the subject in Malaysian schools have shown "positive indications".

"The study shows that 37 per cent of English teachers in primary school are at the C1 and C2 levels. This means that they are good enough to teach English," said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin upon the release of the assessment result here yesterday.

The C1 and C2 levels are used to evaluate the proficiency for those considered advanced users.

Emphasising that there is still much room for improvement, he added: "The study shows that 85 per cent of our students are interested in learning English and over 97 per cent of our teachers teaching the subject are interested in the field.

"We have fared reasonably well but the expectations of Malaysians are that we want to be the best among the Commonwe alth," he said after the briefing by the Cambridge English Language Assessment team.

The briefing was conducted by its head and international development head Dr Hanan Khalifa and project director Martin Robinson.

Muhyiddin said the final report, expe cted by March, would be forwarded to an Education Ministry council.

"The council will then make recommendations based on the report," he said to a question if this would lead to changes in the curriculum and English teaching practices.

Muhyiddin pointed out that the study involved 31,000 students in 943 classrooms in 476 schools across the country, and was carried out in line with strategies outlined under the National Blueprint on Education, and amidst public debate on the deteriorating standard of English.

"If I talk about our standard of English, the public may not believe me, but maybe they will trust Cambridge.

"I am excited for the final report," he said, adding that Malaysia was the only country to carry out such a comprehensive review of its students' English proficiency.

The Baseline Project: Measuring the English Language Standard and Establishing an Evidence-based Baseline was commissioned by the ministry and measures local students against international standards.

Muhyiddin, who is here on a three-day working visit to attend the Education World Forum, also met with members of United Kingdom Umno Club yesterday.

On the subject of cost of living, he said Malaysia needs to balance the country's fiscal situation against the impact of rising costs.

Muhyiddin, who chairs the Cabinet Committee on Rising Costs, said it would take into consi deration the views put forward by Malaysians.

"At the same time that we are studying all aspects of rising costs, we are also looking into some of the fiscal policies that govern our initiatives to strengthen our economy," he said in his speech during a dinner with members of the United Kingdom and Eire (Ireland) Council here on Monday night.